Dear Senegal Bridge Year Students,
We are filled with a mixture of excitement and anticipation as our year is about to begin! So as to give you an idea of what the first month or so will look like we have put together a draft itinerary for you. This is a tentative schedule so as to remain flexible to student and community needs and to take advantage of unexpected opportunities!
Once you land in Senegal, we will spend our first few days with Babacar’s extended family as guests of his father’s daara, a Sufi spiritual community. Here we will have a moment to recover from jetlag and to land with our feet on the ground. With the breeze of the ocean to cool us from the September heat, we will go through some basics on health and safety, start to learn the local language and have the unique opportunity to explore spirituality through the daily activities of prayer, song and dance.
From Dene we will head to Mouit, a small town outside of the Langue de Barbarie, a national park near Saint Louis. During our week stay, we will build our foundational knowledge of Senegal and set individual and group goals for our Bridge Year together. As well as learning about Senegalese geography, culture, and history we’ll also have a chance to visit Saint Louis, a historic colonial city, well-known for a thriving music and arts scene.
We are fortunate that Senegalese New Year, ‘Tamkharit’, falls on the 9th September this year. Tamkharit or Ashura marks the beginning of Islamic new year. A special meal is prepared, prayers are said to ask for forgiveness and children follow a type of ‘trick or treat’ tradition where boys and girls dress up in each other’s clothing and go around houses singing and dancing to receive food and money. We have been warmly invited to spend this celebration with family and friends in Thies.
From Thies we will head to the communities of Ndem and Mbacke Kadior. Ndem and Mbacke Kadior are Baye Fall spiritual communities, organized around service, agriculture, and traditional arts and crafts. We will have the opportunity to explore the Senegalese philosophies of service practiced by the Baye Fall, as well as participating in traditional craft workshops and day-to-day activities on the farm and in the kitchen.
The final part of our first month of travel culminates with a ten day-long “learning service intensive” in the small village of Ndioukhane, just outside of the bustling city of Thies. Here, we will build lasting relationships with the local community, practice our growing Wolof language skills, and explore best practices for engaging in service. In particular, we will delve into the complexity of service work for foreigners in a postcolonial context.
At the end of September, we will move back to Dakar for a short site orientation before meeting our long-term homestay families who live in Yoff.
Please find a detailed itinerary of our first six weeks below, and be sure to check out the map of where we are visiting!
Jamm ak Jamm,
Babacar, Berta, and Catherine
On-Site Orientation Outline and September/October Itinerary
Schedule, including dates, locations, and activities, is subject to change. This allows us to respond to community and student needs and interests and to take advantage of unique opportunities.
A Note on Communication at the Beginning of the Program:
Students will have limited internet access through September 29, in particular while traveling in rural areas. Follow our adventures through the Yak Board where on-site staff (often referred to as the “instructor team” or the “i-team”) and the students will be posting their reflections!
Day 1 – 2: Wednesday, August 28 – Thursday, August 29: Arrival in Senegal!
Group will begin travel from Princeton to Senegal with Babacar on August 28.
As soon as the group lands in Senegal, a “Yak” update will be posted online here informing family and friends of our arrival.
We will be met at the airport by Catherine and Berta and from there we will drive (approx. 1 hour) straight to the small coastal community of Dene, a Sufi community where we will spend our first few days. We will receive an orientation to Dene and have a ceremony to welcome you all after dinner!
Days 3 – 5: Friday, August 30 to Sunday, September 1: Dene
• Sessions: Group Check ins; Course expectations/agreements; Health & Safety; Cultural Do’s and Don’ts; Introduction to Dene and Islam; Student and Instructor roles; Introduction to Dragons.
Days 6 – 12: Monday, September 2 – Sunday, September 12: Mouit
Day 13: Monday, September 9: Thies
Day 14 – 20: Tuesday, September 10 – Monday, September 16: Ndem & Mbacke Kadior
Day 21: Tuesday, September 17: Thies
Day 22 – 31: Wednesday, September 18 – Friday, September 27: Ndioukhane
Travel to Ndioukhane for “learning service” intensive.
Day 32 – 38: Saturday, September 28 – Thursday, October 3: Dakar
• Travel to Dakar for beginning of on-site orientation in Dakar. Group will stay in the Program House for 2 nights.
Early – mid October
• Continued orientation and content sessions
• Students begin at long-term volunteer work placements. Placements have staggered start dates, and students will have opportunities to pursue additional language study, short-term service or independent enrichment activities.